Halfway Through the Beautiful Chaos

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Six different apartments, six coworking spaces, six cities, four countries, two continents, all in six months with 75 people. Life has been a true whirlwind of change and excitement and newness. Each month I’ve settled in a new city, exploring its cafes and traditional street food, marveling at centuries-old architecture and color, finding swanky hipster bars and speakeasies, hiking and adventuring in nature, meeting passionate locals and listening to their fascinating stories. No day or moment is the same. And still, even after six months of this, I still feel like I’m holding a snow globe in the palm of my hands wondrously staring at myself as I journey through the year – and when I give it a shake, I’m suddenly settled in a new place. It’s become a chaotic yet harmonious life that I never want to end. I’m eager for more, but I’m also so full – full of curiosity, growth, empathy, and love.

Month six of Remote Year brought us to Buenos Aires or the ‘New York of South America’. June marked the start of the winter season in the big city – which is more like fall if you’re from the U.S. east coast with temps in the 50’s – and we were greeted with windy streets and tall trees shedding the last of their amber-colored leaves. My accommodation for the month was a small studio apartment (in a former hotel) with a small kitchenette and a cozy California king bed that was perfect to warm up in.

Similar to New York, Buenos Aires has countless places to explore – parks, restaurants, nightlife, markets, themed-bars and more. We lived in the creative and trendy barrio Palermo SoHo, and I quickly fell in love with the look and feel of the neighborhood.

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As most wine lovers know, Argentina is the holy grail of fine vino, especially Malbec and other red varieties. I enjoyed a couple wine tastings while in BA – my favorite was at Il Posto Mercato where I tasted some of the best wines I’ve ever had, and learned all about the flavors of Argentinian vino from our local friend and wine master, Tomasz (see this cool video recap of the tasting).

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I ventured out of the Palermo area a few times to explore other historical and cultural neighborhoods in the city. With bright buildings and murals, I enjoyed the vibrant barrio of La Boca the most – a working-class community that used to be the home of shipyards as it is situated at the mouth of the Riachuelo river. The main lure of La Boca is Caminito, a colorful artists’ street near the water.

La Boca

A few of the other areas worth exploring are Recoleta and San Telmo. Recoleta, BA’s upscale historical district, is home to the famous La Recoleta Cemetary – a massive cemetery that feels like the size of a small town, and is the final resting place of Eva Peron, former first lady of Argentina (1946-1952) who played a powerful role in Argentina’s women’s suffrage movement and improving the lives of the poor. San Telmo is the oldest barrio in all of BA, and is a great place to stroll through for cute markets, live music, antique shops, and cafes.

Recoleta Cemetary

San Telmo

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On the last day before leaving, I knocked the last few must-sees off of my Buenos Aires list – Palacio Barolo, the Obelisk, and El Ateneo Grand Splendid – the largest bookstore in the city. Not only was it our last day in BA, but also the last one in Latin America, and after six months of connecting with all of the places and its people, I became a little devastated that the time had come to leave. Heading to Europe for the next three months of Remote Year meant no more speaking Spanish, no more empanadas, no more late nights dancing to reggaeton, and a bunch of other little things that made us all fall in love with the culture of each city and country.

The Obelisk

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid

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I went home that night and blasted Despacito (aka the Meraki anthem) on repeat with a glass of my cheap Malbec in hand while I packed up my two bags. I scrolled through the hundreds of photos I’d taken throughout the year and read my old blogs, letting myself feel every emotion and reflecting on all the growth I’ve had in only six months. I sat in the middle of my bed and wrote one last journal entry, and reminded myself that I would come back to this beautiful place many, many times in the future. This was just another bittersweet “see ya later.”

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We’re now more than halfway through our month in the wonderful city of Prague! Will be sharing deets soon. 😉

 

Xoxo, 

Ash

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Not a Goodbye

Tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. I’ll be leaving Colombia and heading to Lima, Peru for month four of my journey with Remote Year. The faster my last hours in this perfect country speed by, the sadder I get – Colombia feels like home, its people feel like family, its mountains have become my peace, and all of its details have sparked creative depths in me that I was sure were dead. I’m not ready to go.

It’s been pretty interesting the conversations I’ve had with family and friends back home while living here. “Get those Pablo connects while you’re out there girl!”, “Don’t EVER walk alone no matter the time of day”, “Man, you’re so bad ass to spend that amount of time in Colombia…you’re not scared?!,” and so on…*rolls eyes*. I often cringed at the ignorance, but at one point I, too, had no idea what Colombia would be like other than what I’d watched in the glamorized, ruthless drug-world portrayed in Netflix’s Narcos series.

Long story short: If you’ve never been here, it’s easy to put the idea and perception of the entire country into a tight box — the terror and cocaine-filled 80’s and 90’s Pablo Escobar era is a time that Colombians work extremely hard to move past, and they’re constantly trying to climb out of the stereotyped bubble many outsiders place them into. For anyone visiting, whether it be for a weekend or a month, I cannot stress enough how important it is to enter with an open mind, and an open heart. Colombia is SO much more than the negative weight it has carried on its shoulders, and it deserves more than the insulting Pablo jokes and comments that many U.S. natives casually laugh over. The people take extreme pride in their beautiful country, and my respect runs deep for them.

I’ve spent the past month living and experiencing the gorgeous Colombian city of Medellin. The nicknamed “City of Eternal Spring” is nestled in the center of a deep, wide valley with mountains in literally every distant view. To me, it feels like some kind of fairy tale utopia floating high up in the clouds. Minus the daily battle between the loud thunderstorms and the sunshine, I’m pretty obsessed with the entire place. Upon my arrival here, I immediately felt overwhelming comfort and that strong sense of “I’ve been here before.”

I haven’t blogged all month because the past few weeks have probably been my most busy ones all year – I’ve hiked through super lush jungles & forests, visited a mountain coffee farm and a woman-owned agroecological farm, went on a “tienda crawl” at traditional Colombian corner stores (that serve amazing beer and food), learned about & tasted juicy exotic fruits only grown here, toured the Afro-Colombian neighborhood of Moravia (a city built on what used to be a trash dump), and even visited a cannabis connoisseur.  Aside from all of these adventures, I’ve spent time working and creating in the cutest, perfectly-decorated cafes and bistros that I’ve ever seen. You can say I’ve been busy falling crazy in love with Medellin.

Right now, I sort of feel like a bratty five-year-old leaving my favorite childhood stuffed animal behind – I want to pack up all the greatness of Medellin and keep it all for myself. I’m not at all ready to leave – but I know this is not a goodbye, simply a quick ‘see you later’ – and I’m currently adding Medellin to my “places I would live” list. Colombia has certainly set the tone for my expectations of South America, and I’m freakin’ thrilled to explore more of its wonderful gems.

Enjoy my photo collection & highlight reel from my favorite moments + places in Medellin, I hope it inspires you to visit the lovely & extraordinary City of Eternal Spring (click on individual image to see the full-size):

Cafes & Bistros

Parque Arvi Hike:

Coffee Farm:

Moravia ‘Route of Hope’

Cannabis Tour

Next up on the itinerary is Lima, Peru – til next time!

Xoxo,

Ash